The sacred water of the Ganges…
The #sacred waters of the #Ganges are confounding. For millennia, they have been viewed by #Hindus as #divine, all-purifying. To drink #water from the Ganges will wash away sins. When the British ruled #India, they would take only #Ganga water in their ships for the long journey home, for it was the only water that would not putrefy during the trip. Today, millions gather each day along the river’s banks to pray, to bathe, to make offerings, and – yes – to drink – as this man is doing at #Rajghat in #Narora, Uttar Pradesh.
Despite its theological purity, the Ganges is scientifically anything but pure. Each day, an estimated billion gallons of untreated, raw sewage is discharged into the Ganges and its tributaries, as well as countless gallons of insutrial waste and agricultural runoff. Human remains, cast into the river after cremation add to this toxic soup. While sickness is a huge issue for people living on – and interacting with – the Ganges, somehow the numbers and frequency of outbreaks such as cholera and typhoid are lower than would be expected.
Why is this? Is there something to the Hindu belief in the river’s cleansing ability? Were the British correct that Ganges water had some special quality that would keep it fresh? The answer, as @pedromcbride and I will investigate in a week in India, might lie in microscopic #bacteriophages, first discovered in the Ganges in 1896 by Ernest Hanbury #Hankin.
#bacteriophage #ips @indiaphotosociety @indiapictures #indiapictures @dailylifeindia @dailylifeasia @davidcmorton @ashleymosher @madhav108a @eddiebauer #surface
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